The gun rights group Arkansas Carry held the first-ever legal open carry march in Fort Smith on Saturday, August 24th. This historic walk, consisting of people of all walks of life from various areas of Arkansas, was made possible by the passage of Act 746, which took effect on August 16th.
Much ado has been made by media outlets (both local and national) that open carry had been deemed illegal by an opinion by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel in July; however, that opinion had no bearing at all upon the legality of carrying handguns in plain view in this walk, according to Arkansas Carry. Arkansas Carry has claimed that the new definition of the "offense of carrying a weapon" allowed them to bear arms either openly or concealed without a license. This new definition, they say, makes the carrying of handguns illegal only when a person has intent to commit or is committing a crime.
The newly-worded "offense of carrying a weapon reads as follows:
5-73-120. Carrying a weapon.
(a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.
The walk received tremendous support during the walk from citizens passing by in cars; some honking, some waving and some doing both. One man from Fayetteville observed the march, and while not knowing why people were carrying handguns in the open (because he had not heard of the walk in the media) he parked his vehicle and joined in. He told the organizers he saw the armed walkers and knew something good was happening, so he decided he wanted to be a part of it.
Sixteen Arkansas Carry members were invited, but many more uninvited armed persons also joined in with the walk, not knowing it was invitation-only. The walk eventually ballooned to almost 40 marchers.
Although the Arkansas State Police have threatened arrests for anyone open carrying, no arrests were made. A State Police car even rolled past the group at the beginning of the celebration walk.
Arkansas Carry plans future walk in other Arkansas cities soon, as they believe Constitutional Carry is now the law in Arkansas.